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Archive: July, 2011

POSTED: Friday, July 29, 2011, 10:29 AM

It's a quixotic quest: Eliminate the Home Rule Charter, the primary document that dictates how city government works, by asking voters to get rid of it this November.

But Pete Wirs, who belongs to a group of dissidents in the Philly GOP, says he and fellow organizers have gathered one-third of the signatures needed to get the question on the ballot this November. Wirs believes the Home Rule Charter is at the root of such city problems as the Deferred Retirement Option Program, the pension perk better known as DROP.

Heard in the Hall believes getting this on the ballot remains a longshot, but stay tuned for more details.

POSTED: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 5:41 PM

President Franklin D. Roosevelt had his fireside chats.  For Karen Brown, the Republican candidate for mayor, it will be Tuesday Talk with Karen.

Beginning Tuesday at noon, Brown plans to give weekly talks on selected subjects, roughly 30 minutes of give-and- take in front of Frank Rizzo’s statue at the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall.  Her first topic on Tuesday:  the Philadelphia School District.  The week after that, she plans to address the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program. 

“I’ll be talking about what everybody’s been screaming about, the policies that I want to see changed when I become mayor,” Brown said.  “And I’m interested in hearing what the people think…. This is my way of getting the everyday working person to give me their opinions….Even if they don’t agree with me,  I’m willing to listen.”

POSTED: Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 5:16 PM

Anti-poverty activist Cheri Honkala and Kensington media man Richie Antipuna plan to file about 3,000 signatures this week with city election officials to get onto Philadelphia's election ballot this fall - Honkala as a candidate for sheriff and Antipuna  for city commissioner.

The filing deadline is next Monday, but they're planning to visit City Hall at lunchtime Friday to drop off their petitions, Honkala said. It takes a minimum of 1,845 signatures to get onto the ballot as independent candidates.

"We 're running as Green Party candidates, but I'm not sure how it will appear on the ballot," said Honkala, 48, whose biggest platform plank is to end the sheriff's real estate sales.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 3:42 PM

Former Mayor John Street, who sparked rumors that he would run for mayor or an at-large council seat when he switched his registration from Democrat to Independent, said today in an e-mail to the Inquirer that he would not seek either office.

The deadline for filing nominating petitions to get on the November ballot as an Independent is Monday, August 1. Street, who lectures at Temple, has been aiding an ongoing orientation offered to 10 council candidates vying to be part of a large freshman class (as many as seven could win election and take office in January). He also says he's helping GOP mayoral candidate Karen Brown.

Here is Street's e-mail, in its entirety:

POSTED: Monday, July 25, 2011, 5:12 PM

Five different city contractors - Verizon, Comcast, Shared Technologies, Motorola and RCC Consultants - provided reports to the city's inspector general on their wining and dining of city employees, part of the probe that led to the firing last week of Joseph James Sr., a top official in the city's Division of Technology.

James had accepted 39 business-related meals from the five companies over a four-year period, violating executive orders issued by mayors John Street and Michael Nutter, according to inspector general Amy Kurland.

A former city employee, deputy public property commissioner Francis G. Punzo, now with Verizon, was accused of accepting 122 meals from the same group of vendors, and a third city worker, Concetta D. Lilli-Pearson, was suspended for 20 days for accepting two meals and a couple of iPods.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 3:03 PM

Despite rumors to the contrary, city police are not going to start handing out tickets to people who text while walking.

Although the idea apparently sounds good to some folks, the police wouldn't even have the authority to do so.

Word that texting-while-walking had become a punishable offense spread thanks to a city educational program called "Give Respect, Get Respect," designed to make drivers, bikers and pedestrians more aware of each other's safety needs.

POSTED: Friday, July 15, 2011, 11:25 AM

With the sun shining and a light breeze, today was a picture-perfect morning to be out for a drive in a white BMW - unless you get pulled over by the police.

That's what happened to a 22-year-old woman, who had the misfortune of being spotted by Officer Christopher Frazier as she made an illegal left turn onto Arch Street from Broad Street.

Making matters worse was that Frazier was not in his police vehicle alone - his passenger was Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

POSTED: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 11:14 AM

Controller Alan Butkovitz today identified seven areas that could impact the city's ability to properly report its finances.

This stuff is slightly technical for the financial layman, which Heard in the Hall should be considered, so below is the full release from Butkovitz's office. Enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the findings from his audit of the City's Fiscal Year 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that included seven separate conditions resulting in a material weakness over the City’s ability to properly report its finances.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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